Does Labour really plan to reverse NHS privatisation?

What exactly is the Labour Party’s position on safeguarding the NHS as a publicly owned service that provides universal health care free at the point of need?

This is going to be a crucial issue in the 2015 General Election.

At its 2012 Conference, Labour said that if they form the government in 2015, they will repeal Part 3 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 . This is the bit of the Act that promotes the stealth privatisation of the NHS.

Labour Shadow Health Minister cosies up with a key privatisation cheerleader

Apparently, that promise was so 2012.

At a fringe meeting at the 2013 Labour Conference, the Labour Shadow Health Minister Andrew Gwynne cosied up to David Worskett, head of the NHS Partners Network.

The NHS Partners Network, part of an organisation known as the NHS Confederation, represents and advances the interests of private healthcare companies that provide  NHS primary & community, elective and diagnostic care services. These are  precisely the initial wave of NHS privatisations that the New Labour government introduced through the “Darzi centres” – like the Tod and Halifax walk in GP centres.

This  early wave of NHS privatisations under the New Labour Government led to Calderdale Primary Care Trust awarding contracts for GP servces and diagnostic care services to Care UK and Virgin Healthcare.

Care UK contracts which neither Calderdale CCG nor NHS England know anything about, according to their responses to recent FOI requests.

The NHS Partners Network is currently lobbying its hardest to keep privatised walk in centres open, in the face of widespread moves to close them, since they have failed to provide the anticipated benefits.

Debbie Graham, Head of Service Improvement at Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group, told the Calderdale Council Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel on 9 April 2013 that the walk-in services in Park and Todmorden wards

“had had no discernible impact on the number of attendances at Accident and Emergency. It had also been hoped that the walk-in service would provide primary care to people who are not registered with a GP, but in fact hardly any attendances at the walk-in services are from people who do not have a GP. She said that there is no evidence that the walk-in services had improved health outcomes.”

The excellent Social Investigations blog reports that the NHS Partners Network has grown from its origins as a voice for private healthcare companies involved in New Labour’s Darzi Centres (aka Independent Sector Treatment Centres), to

“one of the best connected and most persuasive privatisation cheerleaders… Its 2007 annual report boasted of using its influence to downplay the significance of a leaked document from the Health Care Commission that raised questions over quality standards within the ISTCs.”

Calderdale Labour Party swallows privatisation cheerleader’s line

Local Labour Councillors are urging that the privatised Walk in Centres in Todmorden and Halifax should stay open, despite Calderdale CCG’s assessment that

“there is no evidence that the walk-in services had improved health outcomes.”

 

In line with the NHS Partners Network lobbying, Cllr Wilkinson argues that keeping the privatised walk in GP centres open will help take the pressure off Calderdale A&E.

At both the local and national levels, Labour’s commitment to repealing the privatisation of the NHS that New Labour set in motion seems uncertain, despite their electioneering promise to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

All and any Labour Councillors and Labour Party Members are welcome to put their point of view and explain Labour Party policy towards the NHS on this website. Please contact us if you would like to comment or write a reply.

Posted from Hebden Bridge, England, United Kingdom.